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Half a Century Ago, JFK's "Ich Bin Ein Berliner Speech"

In a West Berlin speech on June 26, 1963, Kennedy uttered his legendary phrase, “Ich bin ein Berliner” – “I am a Berliner” to a crowd of over one hundred thousand.


President John F. Kennedy waves at the crowd during a speech in Bonn, Germany, June 1963.

His words were a reference to “all free men, wherever they may live” and underscored support for West Berliners, living in a democratic citadel surrounded by the Soviet’s Berlin Wall – a barrier that divided them from the communism of Soviet-occupied East Germany, and the rest of the world.

People watch John F. Kennedy’s motorcade during his June 1963 visit to Germany.

Excerpt from the speech:

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

From a viewing stand, President John F. Kennedy gazes over the Berlin Wall into East Germany, June 1963.

President John F. Kennedy rides in a motorcade during his June 1963 visit to Germany.

Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (right) and Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt (center) look on as President John Kennedy shakes hands with enthusiastic women during JFK’s June 1963 visit to Germany.

Fainting woman carried by Red Cross workers during commotion caused by President Kennedy’s June 1963 visit to Germany.

German Police hold back surging crowds during President Kennedy’s June 1963 tour.

President John F. Kennedy, in open limo, reviews the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Division (“Spearhead”), West Germany, June 1963.

Tragically, JFK was assassinated five months later as he rode in an open limo through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.

What if John Kennedy had lived and Jackie Kennedy had succumbed to the conspiracy plot? Read SAVING JACKIE K, a thrilling adventure to rescue the First Lady.

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